Under the Southern Cross we Stand, a sprig of Wattle in our hand


I'm puzzled where thus is going, the British won't listen re the naval side, the land side or both?
I'm puzzled where thus is going, the British won't listen re the naval side, the land side or both?
OTL the reason the British could not clear the minefields was they used trawlers with civilian crews to try and clear the mines. As soon as they came under fire they abandoned the task
OTL the reason the British could not clear the minefields was they used trawlers with civilian crews to try and clear the mines. As soon as they came under fire they abandoned the task
Hopefully this means that the operation has a better shot at success ITTL. Presumably removing the mines being able to support the invasion by sea, right? Being supplied with ammunition and ships able to give suppressing fire could only help the Entente.
17 February 1915 - A base in Northern Australia
17 February 1915, East Arm, Palmerston, North Australia

I had taken 6 days and a journey of 3,150 km from his scattered unit of men to arrive from Sydney to Darwin by rail. The advance party had already made the installation secure and finished construction of the barracks area. Prior to the outbreak of war, Palmerston had only a limited military presence. Just a company of militia troops. There had been no naval presence at all.

This was no longer the case. Captain Raymond Brickhill's "Northern Force" was an eclectic mix of units. The old ex- German unprotected cruiser Vulture, that had been interned in Hawaii and then handed over to the protectorate navy. The old torpedo boats T-5 and T-6, two older tugs that had been converted to gunboats whilst awaiting scrapping and three C Class submarines with their ancient depot ship. In addition, his command would trial four new ships that were small enough that they had been able to be transported by rail. Weighing 7 tons, they were capable of carrying one torpedo and one mine and were armed with a machine gun. With a crew of four, they were capable of 22.5 knots. He had also been given command of five Hargrave AHR-3 reconnaissance aircraft.
16 February 1915, Protector's Palace, Melbourne, Australasia

Charlotte Plantagenet and her twin sister, Madeline, made ready. Typical bloody Melbourne, she thought. Supposed to be summer and it was 12 degrees with scudding low cloud and cold. Since she had turned 21, she and her sister had taken over a number of her mother's social engagements, especially with the increased workload due to the war.

She just wished that she was more naturally inclined to be outgoing, like her more vivacious younger sister, who was both blonder, shorter, prettier and more outspoken and, in Charlotte's opinion, more suited to be the next Protector. Yet fate had decreed otherwise.

They were here to award the first medals of the war to Australasian military personnel. Like most things in Australasia, even the process of awarding decorations was fairly egalitarian. There were not different awards for officers and men. Or for navy and army ranks, for that matter. Types of medals were kept to a minimum, with each award fulfilling a specific purpose. These were, in order of importance:

The Eureka Cockade, an 8 pointed star in white enamel and gold - Australasia's Highest military award, given only for bravery on the battlefield. Winners of the award, of which there had been very few, were entitled to be saluted by all other soldiers, even those of superior rank
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The Military Cross was to awarded for acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy. It was represented by a blue enamel and gold or silver cross, silver representing the second class of the award. The award could be made in either class, with two silver awards automatically seeing an award in gold instead.
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The Distinguished Service Cross was awarded for service above and beyond the call of duty. It could be awarded for gallantry, but this was not usually the case, being instead award for exceptional service. It was also a blue enamel and gold or silver cross, thinner and slightly plainer than the Military Cross. The award could be made in either class, with two silver awards automatically seeing an award in gold instead.
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The Distinguished Conduct Medal was awarded for distinguished, gallant and good conduct in the field. It was usually awarded for gallantry, but could be awarded for distinguished service. It came in three grades, gold, silver and bronze, with two awards at one level moving the award to the next level.
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Finally, their was the Wound Medal, known colloquially as the savaloy. It sported a gold or silver plated medal with a red and purple ribbon. For three or more wounds, the award was made in gold. If more than five, the colours on the ribbon were reversed, with purple dominant and a red border.
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These first awards were for actions taken during the subjugation of the German colonies in the Pacific. Sadly, a number were wound badges and two were posthumous. Charlotte hoped that there would be not that many more handed out, however, she was well aware that Solomon and Sons, the official armed services award manufacturers, had a contract for 20,000 Wound Medals.
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The Honorable Charlotte and Madeline Plantagenet
Very brave of you to use finnish style Swastikas on the medals. But I approve of the designs in any case
19 February 1915 - Dardenelles starts
19 February 1915, PNS Eureka Land, off the Dardenelles

It was late and had been a long day. The small armoured cruiser, the ex HMS Norfolk, acted as the flagship of the small Australasian Protectorate Navy force, which consisted of only this ship and the seaplane carrier Albatross, the old Cunard Liner Luciana. Only the later had been involved in today's operations. At Alexandria was the bulk of the Australasian Fleet, ready for a landing at Alexandretta in mid March.

On 19 February 1915, the sea off the entrance to the Dardanelles was calm, with no wind and the sun shining. A few kilometers offshore, a small fleet of British and French warships had taken station. The ships were close to the old Ottoman forts guarding either side of the straits, namely Sedd el bahr and Ertrugal at or near Cape Helles, on Gallipoli peninsula and Kumkale No 1 and 2 on the Asian side, south of Çanakkale. They were not even aware of Orpaniye Tepe, also on the Asian side. From there, the the British ships had leisurely bombarded the forts. All day, shells fell on Seddulbahir, Ertrugal and Kumkale without reply from the Turks. Then, as the Allied ships came to within 3 km, the Turkish gunners finally fired back, showing that the forts hadn't been destroyed at all. The ships had been assisted by aerial spotting, both from Ark Royal and Albatross, but the Turkish guns had been dug in and only a direct hit sufficed, with only one from Cornwallis destroying most of the guns at Ertrugal. This was all very well and only the first part of the strategy to force the straits mainly with ships, however, there seemed to Lieutenant Commander Alfred Bakhap and his superior, Captain Henry Cayley, that there was a decided lack of urgency in the British and French approach. The British had 19 battleships on station, the French 5, yet only four ships, HMS Cornwallis, Albion, Ocean and Vengeance had participated in today's action. Only Albion had been hit, although not severely. Captain Roger Keyes, who had been placed in command of the mine-sweeping operations had agreed, replacing some civilian crews on the converted trawlers with naval regulars. Cayley had even provided a handful of men himself.
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Yes, I am back. Have been involved in a local history project involving the production of a series of books on the Post Offices and post markings, as well as town histories, of Post Offices in Tasmania. It's proven to be a massive project, far bigger than envisaged, however, I have 12 of 30 municipal areas done now, including all of the town histories and a complete list of postmasters, so I can now return here and post. Sorry for the delays.
Yes, I am back. Have been involved in a local history project involving the production of a series of books on the Post Offices and post markings, as well as town histories, of Post Offices in Tasmania. It's proven to be a massive project, far bigger than envisaged, however, I have 12 of 30 municipal areas done now, including all of the town histories and a complete list of postmasters, so I can now return here and post. Sorry for the delays.
No problem and thanks for the explanation.

As for the Dardanelles, hopefully, they will not screw things up as badly as in OTL. Putting at least some naval crews on the minesweepers is a step forwards, but committing less than 20% of the available battleships to the operation suggests a certain lack of energy which is not a good sign.
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Will this more Independent and military minded Australia end up designing and building different types of landing and support craft for island hopping?


Yes, I am back. Have been involved in a local history project involving the production of a series of books on the Post Offices and post markings, as well as town histories, of Post Offices in Tasmania. It's proven to be a massive project, far bigger than envisaged, however, I have 12 of 30 municipal areas done now, including all of the town histories and a complete list of postmasters, so I can now return here and post. Sorry for the delays.
Welcome back and if you have any links to the Tassie PO work please share
28 February 1915 - Still static in the Dardenelles
28 February 1915, PNS Eureka Land, off the Dardenelles

Commodore Roger Keyes had found a group of officers more in keeping with his own line of thinking on board the Australasian ship. They had attacked again, this time with some success. The Ottomans evacuated the outer defences and the fleet entered the straits to engage the intermediate defences. This had allowed demolition parties of Royal Marines to raid the Sedd el Bahr and Kum Kale forts, meeting little opposition. This had allowed all of the outer forts to be disabled and the guns spiked and destroyed. However, it had not removed the threat posed by mobile weapons or removed any of the inner defences, nor had a single mine been swept.

The battleship Agamemnon was hit by seven 9.4-inch (240 mm) shells in ten minutes and was holed above the waterline, suffering three dead, however, the ship continued in action. Although it highlighted the difficulties, it also showed how difficult it was to sink even these older battleships with shore based gunfire that was mainly from older pieces or more modern, but smaller calibre 6 inch and 4 inch guns.

That was the problem. Speed had to be of the essence. On the 28th, they would again attack, with landings being made at Cape Helles that night. Only if they kept the pressure on would the Ottoman's ammunition and morale be liable to dissolution.

The operation on the 28th had been no more successful, although his minesweepers had been able to confirm that the lines at 16,000, 15,000, 14,000, 13,000 and 12,000 yards, all though possibilities to contain mines, had been shown to not do so. Aerial reconnaissance had also shown a definite minefield at around 7,400 yards, inshore on the European side. Tonight he would try and neutralise the field, using battleships to engage the searchlights, which were much easier targets than the emplaced guns.
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1 March 1915, Small success, small butterflies
1 March 1915, PNS Eureka Land, off the Dardenelles

Vice Admiral Frederick Tickell had accomplished two things during his short visit to the Dardenelles. Captain Henry Cayley had been promoted to Commodore, being given command of the 2nd Cruiser Division of the Eureka Land and her sister Peter Lalor. Both ships were no longer front line units. Small 7,700 ton armoured cruisers that were originally built in Italy for the Argentinian Navy, they had been purchased by the Royal navy to keep them out of Russian hands, along with the battleships Swiftsure and Triumph. All hand ended up in the Protectorate Navy, seeing less than 10 years of service in the Royal navy in each case. Tickell had authorised him to add his own ships to the Royal Navy line of battle, hoping that such a demonstration would show that the Protectorate officers were at least willing to put their money where their mouth was in terms of the calls for more urgent action.

It was to have some affect, with the operation scheduled for the 4th of March being moved up to the 3rd. On the night of the 28th and 29th, some first small success had been achieved. Three searchlight positions had destroyed. In addition, 22 mines had been swept, even if one had been as a result of the trawler detonating it. The battleship Cornwallis has been hit twice, but had taken no serious damage, although two men had been killed and 22 more on the luckless converted minesweeper.

Cayley's two small and weak armoured cruisers were not really suited to engaging the forts in the narrows, however, if he was to have a voice, then he needed to contribute to the effort.
4 March 1915, - Progress and potential problem
4 March 1915, PNS Eureka Land, off the Dardenelles

The landings at Cape Helles had taken place on the night of 28th February-1st March with some mixed success. Ottoman forces in the area were limited. Only a company of engineers and two battalions of garrison troops, equipped with machine guns, but no artillery. Whilst the Royal Naval Division landed and made quick progress, the 29th Infantry under the command of Major General Aylmer Hunter-Weston faced a series of contradictory commands, getting major parts of the division lost and then running into contract with a battalion of Ottoman troops and being stopped cold.

The following day, the very paucity of Ottoman troops in the are and the rapid advance of the Royal Naval Division led to the Ottoman forces withdrawing. After the failure of the Ottoman raid on the Suez Canal in early February, it was seen as appropriate to release some garrison troops, so on the night of the 2nd/3rd March, the Gurkha 1/5 and 1/6 Rifles were landed to reinforce the attack.

By the morning of the 4th March, the village of Krithia had been captured and the strategic hill of Achi Baba was almost surrounded. It was to result in the rapid formation of the Ottoman 5th Army on 4th March in Instanbul, with Liman Von Sanders tasked with forming a force to expel the British. That same day, naval operation were resumed, the planned resumption of operations on the 3rd having been delayed by bad weather. By that stage, the outer defences had all been neutralised. That had removed 4 11 inch, 4 10.2 inch, 12 9.4 inch, 1 8.2 inch, 2 5.9 inch, 4 3.4 inch and 4 howitzers.

Next was the intermediate defences South of Kepez Point, with the forts at Kepez Point and Dardenos on the Asiatic side and and Mussudieh on the European side. Commodore Henry Cayley had no idea how many guns that were to oppose them and may well have been daunted if he knew is was 62 on the Asiatic side and 56 on the European, just in the intermediate defences. The good news was that aside from 14 obsolete 8.2 inch guns, there as nothing heavier than a 5.9 inch gun. It was the inner defences that were likely to prove the hardest nut to crack, with 14 inch guns present.

The morning of the 4th saw the attempt on the intermediate area. Operations were carried out by the 4th Sub-Division under Captain Heathcoat Grant of Canopus, glad enough, after her experiences as a battery at the Falklands, to become an active ship again. The plan of the runs was changed. It had been found that close in along the European shore the water was dead for the guns and howitzers on that side up to 7,000 yards from Fort Dardanos, and, moreover, that a ship hugging the shore could not be reached from Eren Keui furher up the narrows.

This line the Canopus was to take, supported by the Majestic. The Cornwallis and Albion were to devote themselves to subduing minor batteries, beginning with In Tepe, with its four 6" howitzers just inside the entrance, and having disposed of it, to carry on and engage Eren Keui at 7,000 yards. Entering the Dardanelles about 1.30, the Canopus and Majestic kept along the north shore till they were at the limit of the dead water nearly due west of Dardanos fort. There they stopped within 1,000 yards of the shore, and at 2.20 began a deliberate fire on the battery across the Straits at a range of 7,500 yards. Dardanos fort did not reply, and for nearly two hours the ships kept up their deliberate fire, disturbed only by a howitzer battery above Messudieh, whenever their movements took them out of the dead water.

At 4.15 Dardanos suddenly opened in earnest, and so accurate was the fire that the ships were straddled at once, and the Canopus had a shell on her quarter-deck which wrecked the ward-room; another carried away her main topmast, and a third went through her after funnel and riddled two of her boats. Captain Grant, in accordance with instructions, immediately ordered the range to be opened out, and fell back to a position further out in the Straits, where he could make things more difficult for the Turkish gunlayers. This movement, however, brought him within the fire area of Eren Keui. The Cornwallis, having quickly disposed of In Tepe, was now engaging the barrage batteries in that quarter, but without much effect, and the other two found themselves under a heavy and accurate fire, not only from Dardanos, which was still straddling them, but also from the howitzers on both sides. By keeping in motion, however, and turning at different points they avoided any direct hits, while at the same time they were able to develop so accurate a fire on Dardanos that by 4.40 it was silent, and they could see that one gun had been knocked over.

The Albion was then ordered to help the Cornwallis with Eren Keui, while the Canopus put a few more shells into Dardanos. It was still silent, and the Eren Keui area was soon so quiet that the Cornwallis joined her consorts and put two more shells into the fort. Then, as there was no reply, the ships were withdrawn, having suffered some minor damage, but no casualties beyond one man slightly wounded.

Eureka Land and her sister Peter Lalor moved to engage the smaller 3 and 4.7 inch guns at Suandere and soon these forts also fell silent. Seaplane spotting from Terrible and Albatross showed less damage than had been thought. Of the guns at Dardanos only one was seen to be dismounted, although the effect of the fire seemed to render the working of the guns impossible, it certainly failed to destroy them. As for the mobile and concealed guns and howitzers on both shores, they proved quite as formidable as on the previous day, being very difficult to knock out, although Royal Marines landed and destroyed 10 guns at Chamlik and Koja Dere, likely as many as the fleet accounted for, if not more. The minefield defence, moreover, was still intact, and when that night the destroyers and minesweepers attempted once more to attack the Kephez field, the fire that greeted them was so severe that no progress could be made, only three mines being removed from the futhest field, which was declared swept. How many more feild remained was anyone's guess.

In the Gulf of Xeros, the French Admiral Guepratte had carried out his mission with good results. While the Suffren engaged Fort Sultan, and the Gaulois Fort Napoleon on the Bulair neck and set the barracks on fire, the Bouvet attacked the Kavak bridge, but though badly damaged it was not destroyed. The other two battleships attempted to bombard the main road South, so as to interdict the passage of Ottoman reinforcements onto the peninsula.

LIttle progress had been made with the intermediiate defences. Clearly, difficulties lay ahead. The abandonment of so many guns by the Turks, and their readiness to cease working those that were in their possession, both in the forts and on the hills, showed how great a demoralisation the ships had caused; either that, or ammunition suply was a major problem. However, things were about to change and not by forcing the straits solely with ships. On 6th March, Carden finally received permission to use his flagship, Queen Elizabeth, inside the Straits, as long as "due caution" was used. Likewise, the battlecruiser Inflexible. That same day, the Royal Artillery were able to emplace a battery of four 60 pounder guns on Achi Babar's 219 meter summit. The following way, with a commanding view of the straits, they were able to commence firing on the troublesome mobile guns on the European side of the strait on the morning of the 7th. Firing howitzers down on targets from elevation was a very different proposition from firing naval guns from sea level. By the end of the day, many of the European batteries lay silent. Any attack that night to recapture the heights failed and the Ottomans faced losing their intermediate defences.

This was the experience of the Japanese, who alone had any practical knowledge of ships engaging forts under modern conditions. On the 8th March, the fleet as a whole steamed into the Straits, British, French and Australasian. They enaged by the batteries on the Asiatic side and, supporred by lobng distance fire from Achi Babr, were able to silence the guns, landing marines to ensure their destruction. By the end of the day, no batteries South of Kephez Point were operational and both the outer and intermediate defences had been destroyed or surpressed. The day was so successful, their were no operations that night, so no one noticed the minelayer Nusret lay 20 mines in 4.5 meter of water. It was not a blocking minefield like the other rows on minefilds in the Dardenelles, but a line parallel to the line of retreat of allied ships on previous days.